Buzzer-beating bummer -- DL girls fall in last seconds in section title game; Fergus Falls advances to state tourney

DETROIT LAKES - It was the exact situation the underdog Detroit Lakes girls' basketball team wanted to be in during the Section 8-3A championship game against Fergus Falls Thursday evening -- having the ball for the last possession of the game wi...

DETROIT LAKES - It was the exact situation the underdog Detroit Lakes girls' basketball team wanted to be in during the Section 8-3A championship game against Fergus Falls Thursday evening -- having the ball for the last possession of the game with a chance to win.

Everything seemed to be working in favor of the No. 3 seeded Lakers to pull off the big upset over No. 1 Fergus Falls, all but a few inches that is.

Junior point guard Abby Hoganson's driving shot with just 2.9 seconds left on the clock came up just short, propelling the Otters to the Class 3A state tournament with a thrilling 46-45 victory.

"That was all we could have asked for," said DL head coach Mike Hoganson. "We wanted to be aggressive at the end there and get a good shot off. There wasn't a more willing player to take that kind of shot than Abby was.

"Nine time out of 10, she usually makes a shot like that. This time she didn't, that's the way it goes."


Fergus Falls put themselves in that situation for the Lakers, after missing three straight front ends of one-and-one free throw opportunities in the later stages of the game.

Senior forward star Hannah Draxten -- who will be playing at Iowa State next year --uncharacteristically missed her front end of a one-and-one bonus free throw with 32.5 seconds remaining with the Otters up 46-45.

After that, senior forward Alice Branden hauled in the rebound and passed to junior guard Dani Labine, who cross the midcourt line before a DL timeout, leaving 28.8 seconds left for the last possession of the game.

The Lakers came out, eating the clock up, leaving just under 10 seconds to set up the play.

DL attacked the Otters' strength, driving right into the teeth of the stringent inside Fergus Falls defense.

It was Abby Hoganson who made the drive, splitting two defenders and finding open space just underneath the basket, where she under-handed a shot.

Unfortunately for the defending Section 8-3A champion Lakers, the ball came up short as the buzzer went off -- followed by a mass of Fergus Falls' student bodies, who rushed the floor.

"The plan was to attack the basket and hopefully draw a foul, so when I was driving, I was expecting a foul," Abby Hoganson said of the last possession. "I probably babied my shot a little, putting it up a little short. I tried for the shot, it came up short."


But the thriller in Moorhead was more than just those final 28 seconds.

Fergus Falls employed a tough man-to-man defense, ranked No. 5 in Class 3A, while DL has played solid defense all season.

Those two forces butted heads, as the game quickly turned into a defensive struggle.

On the Lakers' side, they concentrated on containing Draxten with a 2-3 match-up zone. Draxten was held to 13 points, while finding herself double-teamed on the block every time she touched the ball.

Meanwhile, the Otters proved their No. 5 ranking, allowing very little breathing space in the paint for the Lakers, forcing DL to shoot the majority of their shots from the outside.

"We didn't want to give Hannah (Draxten) any open looks, and it was a tribute to our kids to keep her to 13 points," Mike Hoganson said.

The Otters also contained DL's high-percent inside shots, registering seven blocked shots in the first half alone.

Fergus Falls was able to build a 16-4 lead with 8:46 remaining to halftime, making it look as if the game was going to be a rout, similar to Fergus Falls' 46-26 win over DL earlier in the season.


But the deep shot beyond the arc saved the Lakers, as Labine opened the rally with a three pointer, followed by two consecutive Hoganson treys to trim the deficit to 18-13.

DL continued its strong defensive presence, while Hoganson hit a slicing layup, followed by a Morgan Lof jumper to put the margin down to 23-17.

The comeback continued with Hoganson hitting her third three-pointer at the 3:37 mark, with junior post Robin Hutchinson putting DL on top for the first time in the contest with a putback at the three-minute mark at 24-23.

The Otters eventually jumped back on top with baskets by Sarah Erickson and Amanda Lewis for the 29-24 advantage.

But the rally by DL affected the second half momentum tremendously.

"It was huge lift to comeback, because the last time it was downhill for us when Fergus got up on us," Abby Hoganson said, who finished the first half with three treys and 13 points. "We just were a different team this time, because we were concentrating on winning so much before, we forgot to come out and have fun.

"We started having fun later in the season."

Mike Hoganson was impressed with the comeback, as well.


"Most teams in that situation would have crumbled, our girls didn't," he said.

The Lakers held the potent Otter offense to 17 points in the second half, as the biggest margin for a lead was five points, which was held by FF.

Senior forward Brianne Thompson converted two big free throws after a rebound with 1:34 remaining to cut the lead to 46-45.

After Thompson's free throws, Fergus Falls missed the three front end of the one-and-one free throws to set up the dramatic ending.

Fergus Falls' stout defense created some key DL turnovers down the stretch, while an Erin Morstad three pointer near the six-minute mark broke a 41-41 tie, a lead the Otters would not concede the rest of the way.

Abby Hoganson led the way with 16 points, while Branden played well scrapping in the lane with 14 points.

The Otters will begin state tournament play Wednesday inside the Target Center in Minneapolis.

Laker results


Section 8-3A championship at Minnesota State University Moorhead, Thursday, March 6.

Detroit Lakes 24 21 - 45

Fergus Falls29 17 - 46

Scoring (2-3-ftm-fta-pts)

DL: Abby Hoganson 2-4-0-0-16; Morgan Lof 4-0-0-0-8; Alice Branden 6-0-2-6-14; Brianne Thompson 0-0-2-2-2; Dani Labine 1-1-0-0-5. Team: 13-5-4-8-45.

FF: Erickson 4-1-0-0-11; Wellendorf 3-0-0-0-6; Morstad 1-1-0-0-5; Draxten 4-1-2-3-13; Rengel 1-0-1-2-3; Lewis 4-0-0-2-8. Team: 17-3-3-7-46.

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